Each semester more club golf teams have started holding recreational matches against schools in their area to help prepare for regional tournaments. Clemson and Georgia are two of the top teams in the Southeast Region, both ranked in the Top 15 of the NCCGA’s Preseason National Rankings. The two club golf teams recently squared off in a friendly competition last weekend at the University of Georgia Golf Course.
How did this match between Clemson and Georgia originate?
Richard Hardeman (UGA) - Last fall our two teams placed first and second in both regionals so I reached out to the former Clemson President to see if they had any interest for a match in the spring of 2014. He was very excited about the possibility of a match and we agreed to plan it a little closer to the event. Johnny (Garstka) took over as President going into the Spring and got in touch with me about planning the match. We worked with the schedules of both teams to find a weekend that worked, and then decided to play at the Walker Course (Clemson’s home course).
— Clemson Club Golf (@ClemsonClubGolf) September 7, 2014
What are the benefits of playing a match like this before NCCGA Regionals?
Johnny Garstka (Clemson) - There are several benefits to playing the match prior to NCCGA Tournament play each season. It provides both teams with an opportunity to knock the rust off a few weeks before the important tournaments begin. It is also a great way to develop friendships with members of another NCCGA team. Finally, it gives the visiting team a chance to see a new course. The UGA course is kept in fantastic shape, so we really enjoyed getting the chance to play there
Which club golf team won the event?
Johnny Garstka (Clemson) - UGA won the exhibition this fall 11.5 to 6.5. Following six best ball matches in the morning, the score was 3.5-2.5 in favor of UGA. We played 12 9-hole singles matches in the afternoon, and UGA triumphed in enough of those to top Clemson. UGA also won the match during the spring when it was held in Clemson, SC. During the spring, we made it a two-day event with six 18-hole best ball matches on Saturday and 12 18-hole singles matches on Sunday. A two day 36-hole event is the best way to do it, but we were pressed for time this fall so we went with the 27-hole format.
What are the logistics of holding an event like this (travel, scoring, etc)?
Johnny Garstka (Clemson) - There are definitely some logistics involved in setting up the match. The team that hosts the match needs to negotiate a deal with the pro at their home course. The presidents of each team, or whoever is placed in charge of organizing the match from each team, need to communicate efficiently leading up to the match. Will the format be alternate shot, best ball, singles or a combination? Will it be 18, 27, or 36 holes? What will be the date of the match? Will it be a one day or two day event? All of these variables need to be considered.
Richard Hardeman (UGA) - We are fortunate that both of our schools have course which made it easier to pick host sites. Initially we came up with the design of alternating semesters to host so that the players could play both courses. I think this design works well, but I think it would be cool to experiment with a two day events with one day at each course since our schools are pretty close. For the last two semesters, we have scored the event just like the Ryder Cup awarding one point for a win, half a point for a tie, and zero points for a loss.
Would you recommend other NCCGA club teams have matches like this?
Johnny Garstka (Clemson) - I would highly recommend other NCCGA club teams organize matches similar to ours! It was a blast and my hope is that it will continue after I graduate in December!
Richard Hardeman (UGA) - I would strongly recommend this format to other schools. The match play format is very cool to play in, and you can experiment with a lot of different styles such as best ball, scramble, alternate shot, and singles. I think it also helps create some cool relationships with teams in your region that you wouldn't get otherwise.
— Georgia Club Golf (@GeorgiaClubGolf) September 14, 2014
How's the club looking in advance of regionals and on the #RoadtoRabbit?
Johnny Garstka (Clemson) - Our team is looking very strong in advance of regional play and the #RoadtoRabbit. We will begin our qualifying process for the first regional tournament tomorrow, September 19th. We have high hopes for this season. Hopefully it will be one to remember! Go Tigers!
Richard Hardeman (UGA) - I think both clubs looked very strong. We both picked up some good players for this season so the #RoadtoRabbit should be pretty exciting.
**Travis Richardson is a Zone Manager for the NCCGA, and would love to help your club set-up a recreational match. Contact Travis on Twitter @travis_richson.